Doyle’s dream week ends on a high

LIFE cannot get much sweeter for Kevin Doyle. The Wexford-born striker has just enjoyed the kind of week he must have wished would never end: a lucrative new contract, tying him to the Royals until 2011, two goals here which brought him his half-century for the Berkshire club three years after joining and the chance to enhance his international credentials in next week’s clash with Poland.

Things could yet get even better. Reading are firmly on track to regain their Premier League status, lost so dramatically last season, with Doyle’s goals fuelling Steve Coppell’s team this term.

The former Cork City player and his strike partner Noel Hunt were a constant threat to Paul Jewell’s Derby and Coppell contends that maintaining a goal threat is the key to winning promotion.

“There is so much discussion away from the green stuff these days in football,” he said. “All the talk in the summer didn’t do Kevin’s form any favours at the start of the season, and the concentration on football is so important.

“But he’s made a commitment to us now — and he won’t be diverted away by speculation.

“Where he’ll end up now will be down to how he plays — and he’s certainly doing well at the minute.”

Coppell is delighted to have Doyle and Hunt on his side.

“We’ve got combinations now up there. ‘Doyler’ is scoring consistently and so is Noel,” he said.

“I always say in this division you need two strikers who can score you 40 goals — and I think we have that here.”

After Hunt had headed in brother Stephen’s corner to give the hosts the lead, Derby winger Kris Commons wasted a great chance to equalise.

Doyle then headed in Chris Armstrong’s cross before placing a deft 20-yard shot in off the post to seal the win and Coppell admitted Commons’ miss was vital.

He said: “Derby had only been beaten once in 11 and they looked very solid to me on paper.

“We knew it would be a stiff test, and that is what it proved to be.

“The first goal came from nothing; it was a corner, but not one we have worked on.

“We knew we’d have to push on — and we did. The Commons chance was critical — because if he’d scored that it might have been different. But from then on, we looked good.”

Jewell had few complaints but also felt the chance spurned by Commons — the Rams’ outstanding performer — proved decisive.

He said: “The best team won. They are a top side, and I think they’ll get promotion. They are strong and quick — and once they got the second goal, they closed it off well.

“But you don’t get chances like that away from home very often — and you have to take them.”

READING (4-4-2): Hahnemann, Armstrong, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Cisse (Matejovsky 78), Stephen Hunt, Harper (Gunnarsson 79), Rosenior, Kebe, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 69).

Subs Not Used: Henry, Andersen.

DERBY (4-4-2): Bywater, Connolly, Albrechtsen (Davis 53), Stewart, Addison, Green, Teale (Barazite 66), Commons, Nyatanga, Villa, Hulse (Ellington 76).

Subs Not Used: Carroll, Kazmierczak.

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